Morocco: In Vain I Migrate | Abdellatif Laâbi

I migrate in vain
In every city I drink the same coffee
and resign myself to the waiter’s impassive face
The laughter of nearby tables
disturbs the evening’s music
A woman walks by for the last time
In vain I migrate
ensuring my own alienation
I find the same crescent moon in every sky
and the stubborn silence of the stars
In my sleep I speak
a medley of languages
and animal calls
The room where I wake
is the one I was born in
I migrate in vain
The secret of birds eludes me
as does my suitcase’s magnet
which springs open
at each stage of the journey

Translated by Andre Naffis-Sahely and culled from www.poetrytranslation.org

Abdellatif Laâbi, is a prizewinning poet from Morocco who writes in French. In 1966 he founded the renowned literary magazine Souffles, a journal of literature and politics that was to earn its editor an eight-year prison sentence (from 1972 to 1981) under the authoritarian reign of Hassan II.  Laâbi received the Prix Goncourt de la Poésie in 2009 and the Académie française’s Grand prix de la Francophonie in 2011.

The African Book Review is posting a poem from each of Africa’s 55 countries over the next few weeks. Poem suggestions can be sent through the comments form below. ‘Like’ us on FacebookTwitter, and Tumblr to read all the poems.

Mauritius: For the World’s Beauty | Umar Timol

pour achever / la beauté du monde /
il faut que la lumière /
étreigne la pavane / des ombres sur tes lèvres /

For the world’s beauty / to be complete /
light must embrace /
the pavane of shadows / passing across your lips /

Translated by Susan Wicks. Culled from Poetry International.

 

Umar Timol was born on the island of Mauritius in 1970. Timol’s first book was La Parole Testament suivi de Chimie (2003). His second book, Sang is a long mystical love song composed in the Sufi tradition. His third collection, Vagbondages suivi de Bleu was published in 2009. Timol is a founding member of the Mauritian poetry journal, Point Barre, which publishes international poets.

 

The African Book Review is posting a poem from each of Africa’s 55 countries over the next few weeks. Poem suggestions can be sent through the comments form below. ‘Like’ us on FacebookTwitter, and Tumblr to read all the poems.

Cote d’Ivoire: If You Could | Assamala Amoi

If you could leave when work was done

Like the sun at the end of its day;

If you could arrive like the day and the night

At an hour chosen by the seasons;

If you could hear the farewells like the tree

Listens to the song of the migrating bird

– who would dread departures, returns and death?

.     .     .

“Si on pouvait”

Si on pouvait s’en aller à la fin de son ouvrage

Comme le soleil au terme de sa course;

Si on pouvait arriver comme le jour et la nuit

A l’heure choisie par les saisons;

Si on pouvait entendre les adieux comme l’arbre

Ecoute le chant de l’oiseau qui le quitte

Qui craindrait les départs, les retours et la mort?

 

Assamala Amoi was born in Paris in 1960, and lived in France with her parents until 1966. Upon her return to the Southern part of the Ivory Coast, she attended the University of Abidjan, where she graduated with a Masters in English Literature, and a Translator Certificate (French-English). From December 2000, she has worked for the World Health Organisation.

Poem culled from Zocalo Poets.

The African Book Review is posting a poem from each of Africa’s 55 countries over the next few weeks. Poem suggestions can be sent through the comments form below. ‘Like’ us on FacebookTwitter, and Tumblr to read all the poems.

Comoros: Moroni ma princesse | Soeuf Elbadawi

Moroni ma princesse
aux pieds pauvres
s’enrhume et s’enivre à grande eau
par jour de mauvais temps

mais que voulez-vous qu’on lui dise?
la vérité d’une inquiétude
ou le mensonge d’une nuit
d’orgie hors de prix?

le blues de Moroni.
cette ville si petite mais si unique

nous l’invoquons ce soir
pour panser les plaies
d’un peuple qui se déchire
au rythme d’un soap

notre rêve. s’il en est
est que cette ville devienne un jour
un amour d’utopie

et que l’apprentissage de la solitude
laisse place

à l’invention
d’une nouvelle fratrie
à qui l’irritation du monde
ne fera plus peur.

que Moroni devienne
une ville de tous les possibles

Soeuf Elbadawi was born in Moroni, the largest city of Comoros. A long time journalist, he served with Radio Comoros and Radio France International. He has written in newspapers such as Al-Watwan, Kashkazi, and Africultures. He blogs at http://muzdalifahouse.wordpress.com/.

 

The African Book Review is posting a poem from each of Africa’s 55 countries over the next few weeks. Poem suggestions can be sent through the comments form below. ‘Like’ us on FacebookTwitter, and Tumblr to read all the poems.

Burkina Faso: Black soul | Monique Ilboudo

Black and woman
God knows
if I have a soul

man or woman
Who knows
if I have culture

with or without a soul
I know
That I exist

with or without culture
I know
Who I am

 

Monique Ilboudo was born in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. She completed a Doctorate in Law and taught at the University of Ouagadougou until 2000. She is currently the Minister for Promotion of Human Rights in Burkina Faso.  This poem is a translation from the original French language version. 

 

 

The African Book Review is posting a poem from each of Africa’s 55 countries over the next few weeks. Poem suggestions can be sent through the comments form below. ‘Like’ us on FacebookTwitter, and Tumblr to read all the poems.